Extend anti-Russia sanctions? Not if Italy has its way

EU sanctions are a social, cultural, and economic absurdity

Thorsten Gutmann, writing in Ostexpert.de

Italy puts extension of Russia sanctions into question
The EU sanctions against Russia are hurting Italian business. This was stated by Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Tuesday, according to the Moscow Times.

The Italian government puts extending European sanctions against Russia into question. They would “only hurt our companies,” said Prime Minister Conte shortly before an EU summit on Thursday in Brussels. Previously, Vice-Prime Minister Matteo Salvini said EU sanctions were a “social, cultural, and economic absurdity.”

According to the Italian Prime Minister, the EU should not count on sanctions, but rather on “determination coupled with dialogue.” Next week, Conte meets Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

Matteo Salvini wants to abolish sanctions
Wednesday the Italian Interior Minister Salvini traveled to the Russian capital with a business delegation. He wanted to convince “all our partners” in Europe that the sanctions are not effective, said Salvini to the Russian news agency TASS.

Plans include a meeting with the Russian-based Italian lobby organization Confindustria, reports the news portal Bloomberg. According to his own statements, Salvini will meet “hundreds” of Italian entrepreneurs who are active in the Russian business despite all adversities. Unlike Conte, Salvini does not plan meetings with Russian politicians.

In the past, Salvini has made several positive comments about Russia. Before the presidential election he wished Vladimir Putin good luck and called him “one of the best political leaders of our time”.

A coalition of the Five-Star Movement and the Lega Nord has been governing Italy since June. Both parties regularly criticize the European sanctions policy. Already before the election Salvini fought against the sanctions. Small companies in export-oriented northern Italy, some of which suffer from sanctions, are especially among its constituents. The interior minister has contradicted media reports, according to which the Lega Nord is supposed to be financially supported by Moscow.

Bilateral trade between Russia and Italy
In 2013, Italy exported goods worth about $ 12.5 billion to Russia. In 2016, the value plunged by 37% to 6.8 billion US dollars. In 2017, there was a slight increase to 8 billion US dollars. Imports from Russia fell by 39% last year compared to 2013.

Since 2014, several EU sanctions against Russia have been active. These include sanctions in the economic sector, which run until 31 January 2019. The sanctions include an arms embargo, an export prohibition on military dual-use goods, a reservation on the export of oil exploration and production assets, and restrictions on access to capital markets for Russian financial institutions.

In addition, there are personal EU sanctions against Russia and EU sanctions in connection with the internationally contested Crimea in 2014.

Comments (13)
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  • VeeNarian (Yerevan)

    The 2019 Italian budget has been rejected by Brussels. It is time for Italy to partner future RF economic development fully, or it will stagnate forever.
    Somehow, I doubt that Italy has the guts to look after its own interests.

    • Le Ruse

      Italy need a Garibaldi to retake the country back or even a Mussolini to stop the “asylum seekers/refugees” from invading ..

  • BobValdez

    Going to be interesting to see if Italy grows a pair and stops this Russion sanctions insanity.

    • Le Ruse

      Methink it is too late already ..Russian are producing their own food & produces ?? They cam make their own Mozzarella & Parmesan cheeses As well, their own Mortadella & Parma ham ??
      So not much hope for big business from Russia ??

  • TiredOfBsToo

    The Europeans would be wise to follow Italy’s lead. The downside of continuing with this anti-Russian bs will see the US positioning cruise missiles in Europe, after the pullout of the INF treaty, targeting Russia and once again placing Europe in the cross-hairs.

    Isn’t trade better than being painted as a target?

    • VeeNarian (Yerevan)

      With the UK heading for Brexit and the mid-Atlantic drift, continental Europe should refuse the US madness of RF containment and nuclear missiles based in Banderised Ukraine, Poland and the Baltics.
      Will the prospect of being nuclear toast (perhaps by accident) wake up the EU slaves???

      • Le Ruse

        Brexit ??? ROFLOL … I’m not holding my breath ?? No way in Hell it will happen, unless the great unwashed pick up their pitchforks & flaming lighted torches & march on the lunatic asylum a.k.a. Westminster Parliament ??

        • VeeNarian (Yerevan)

          The Plebs of Essex and Kent are getting ready to march on Parliament, just like the good old times. The London elite is in for a shock, if not the chop.

          • Le Ruse

            Wat Tyler !! Come back !! All’s forgiven ??

          • VeeNarian (Yerevan)

            I do believe in re-incarnation! The traitorous UK elite better watch out. Remember, remember the 5th of November!

          • Le Ruse

            But this time, don’t flubber it ?

  • lene johansen

    Rest of EU should follow Italia. Long live Italia

    • heraldmage

      Under the EU rules all nations must approve sanctions. If 1 veto’s sanction they are discontinued for everyone.
      What punishment will they face from the USA if they don’t reinstate sanctions? They might as well go all the way, after all supposedly they are going to continue honoring the JCPOA and continue trade with Iran in Euro’s rather than $’s despite US warning of sanctioning anyone who doesn’t comply with unilateral US sanctions, so what difference will it make if they disobey US sanctions on Russia too.